“A.C.O.D.,” an unfunny comedy about a guy mooning over his parents’ divorce decades later, is so eager to please, it’s hard to hate. But it’s sluggish, even at 87 minutes, and clichéd. And it gives you nothing of interest to look at other than some familiar faces.
Adam Scott, a likable presence no matter the material, plays Carter, a restaurateur in a generic town. He seems perfectly adjusted, what with his nice sweaters, nice apartment and nice girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). I’ve forgotten the girlfriend’s name, and because Winstead’s biography isn’t in the movie’s publicity material, I assume that this character isn’t really important. Because what matters in this movie is Carter, his needs, his emotions and, most of all, his unhappiness with his parents, Melissa (Catherine O'Hara) and Hugh (Richard Jenkins), narcissists of the first order who somehow managed to produce one agreeable son, Trey (Clark Duke). (Carter isn’t particularly pleasant, but that wouldn’t matter if there was more to him than sweaters and whining.)
“A.C.O.D.,” an acronym for adult children of divorce, is the first movie directed by Stuart Zicherman, a television veteran who wrote the script with Ben Karlin, and it need not be his last. Zicherman has rounded up an affable group of actors, including Amy Poehler, who nimbly rises above the shrewish caricature she’s meant to play, wringing out some much-needed laughs. Jane Lynch, who plays a woman studying children of divorce, also elevates her scenes. But Zicherman needs a better crew, some time with the Criterion Collection and a fresher story, one perhaps not plucked from his own life. In one of those unwise director’s statements that sometimes appear in the publicity material, Zicherman discusses his parents’ divorce. Here’s hoping this has helped him move on.